Monday, June 1, 2009

Swimming with Purpose

Usman Javaid of Lahore, Pakistan, and David Gatz of Delaware, Ohio, both members of Ohio Wesleyan's men's swim team, will swim the English Channel this summer to demonstrate the power of friendship in making the world a better place. They have named their effort the “Channeling Peace Initiative.”

As part of their 21-mile relay swim in the frigid Channel, the seniors are raising funds to support the Pakistani relief efforts of Doctors Without Borders, an international medical humanitarian organization.
“It is our sincere hope that our efforts will raise awareness of the need for international friendship and cooperation in addressing many of the world’s challenges,” the swimmers state. “It can be a challenge within our daily lives to reach out and befriend someone of another culture, but these are the steps that bring about a unified world.”
The pair is scheduled to make their Channel swim between July 28 and Aug. 6, with the weather determining exactly when they take the plunge. Once they dive in, they will alternate one-hour swims, braving the 60- to 65-degree Fahrenheit water and 3- to 5-foot waves wearing only a Speedo, swim cap, and goggles. Thermal suits and other protective gear aren’t allowed if the swim is to be officially recognized. The swim is expected to take between 12 and 14 hours coast to coast.

Javaid and Gatz began training in earnest in April for their Channel swim. That training has included spending hours in Delaware’s icy Alum Creek, and experiencing “convulsing shivers” afterward, to acclimate themselves to the strength-sapping cold of the English Channel.

Ohio Wesleyan Head Coach Richard Hawes, who helped to devise training regimens for the pair, and university Chaplain Jon Powers, who is helping them to reach out to government leaders and faith-based organizations to support their international fund-raising and friend-raising venture, will join the swimmer sin Europe.

Powers said the men’s efforts are inspiring.
Usman and David provide a tangible example of the power of friendship and cooperation in changing the world,” the chaplain said. “Their friendship transcends the boundaries of nationality, politics, culture, and religion. They remind us of what is possible when we make sacrifices and work together.”
To learn more about Javaid and Gatz’s “Channeling Peace Initiative,” including how to support them, visit The pair also have a blog at: Peace in Progress and a Facebook page.

Photo courtesy of David Gatz.

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